A very specific problem for a Trombonist who just wanted to see the music

Graham just wanted to see the music

At Allegro Optical we love helping musicians to see the music and we relish a challenge.  Trombonist Graham Palmer from Wiltshire laid down a very specific challenge for us. Graham told us that he was noticing that the staves on his sheet music were merging into each other. For non musical readers, a stave is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces used in Western musical notation to represent a different musical pitch. 


Sight reading had become very problematic for Graham as trying to distinguish which line he should be playing was almost impossible. As musicians, we usually enjoy playing a new piece, but this was far from a treat for Graham.

The problem

Graham is presbyopic and mildly astigmatic was wearing the following prescription bifocals;

RE -0.25/-0.75 x 180  Add +2.25

LE 0.00 / -1.25 x 45    Add +2.25  

With single vision glasses for music made up to;

RE +1.00/-0.75 x 180  Add +2.25

LE  +1.25/ -1.25 x 45   

While Graham’s bifocals were fine, unfortunately the music glasses just weren’t working for him. Having found a change in axis in the right eye Optometrist Gemma carried out a fixation disparity test. This was to detect any diplopia, also known as double vision at distance. She also used the Mallett unit to detect any near point convergence issues. None were detected. However when concentrating on the printed music on the stand Graham struggled to maintain the union of the visual axes and fairly quickly used up his fusional reserves. Resulting in the appearance of overlapping staves. To alleviate this problem, Gemma prescribed some vertical prism, helping  Graham to maintain his fixation when reading his music.

The solution

When dispensing lenses for musicians, I always bear in mind that they will be required to look through a central location in the lens to achieve the corrective power required for a particular working distance. This was a challenge for Graham. Because the need for a prismatic element in the lens meant that a conventional lens was out of the question. Graham needs to move his eyes to read his music. He can’t move his head due to the nature of his instrument and the restrictions of his mouthpiece.

The danger of dispensing a conventional lens is that the further off centre the wearer looks, the greater the image displacement. When the wearer looks down from the centre of a “plus” lens, Base Up prismatic effect is induced and the image appears to move downwards. However, when the wearer looks down from the centre of a “minus”, Base Down prismatic effect is induced and the image appears to shift upwards.  This is what was happening when Graham was playing, causing him to experience the focusing problems and partial double vision. 

For this reason I dispensed Graham with a pair of digital freeform lenses. Specifically for music stand distance, incorporating a prismatic element. Graham found the new lenses to be better than the previous pair. He does still have to move his head a little, but his vision is much improved and he can enjoy making music again.  

The verdict

I heard from Graham a few weeks after he had received his new glasses and he said; “Simply put without Optical Allegro I would have had to stop playing. Two pairs of music glasses from a well known high street optician did not help. I was left  feeling as if the end of my playing had arrived I contacted Optical Allegro. The difference was enormous!  Nothing was too much trouble and they went that extra mile for me. Thank you Sheryl and all your staff for being so friendly, supportive and caring to both myself and my wife”. 

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

An independent family run business we are gaining an international reputation for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs.

Now known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors has resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).  

We treat each client as an individual and it is true that no two musicians are the same. So why should their vision correction be? We enjoy creating unique lenses to meet a musician’s particular needs. As musicians ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly.

Award-winning eye-care

So successful has Allegro Optical been in helping performers that this year alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year‘ at a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 ‘Dispensing Optician of the Year‘. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the  ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year.

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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